4 tips for naturally reducing inflammation

Inflammation can be highly uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, but the presence of inflammation isn’t always a bad one. Inflammation is a part of the body’s healing system and so occurs when there is injury or illness to combat.43229893_M

However, inflammation can also occur without these triggers and, in these cases, is typically a result of one’s lifestyle, including diet, stress level, and being sedentary. Even if your inflammation has become chronic, there are natural ways to reduce it so you can improve and feel better in no time.

To start with, consume anti-inflammatory foods, which include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, nuts, fatty fish and berries. In the same vein, keep away from foods known to contribute to inflammation, such as sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and processed meats.

You’ll also do yourself a great favor by being sure to start an exercise routine. New research suggests that just 20 minutes of exercise can have an impact by activating important cellular responses. We know that there are days when it can be difficult to spare even 20 minutes, but know that doing so will have a significant impact on your health.

Another goal of yours should be to manage your stress. Everyone manages stress differently so find what works best for you. Natural stress reducers include: lavender, chamomile, baths and meditation. Some also find solace in practicing yoga.

Lastly, general lifestyle factors can make the biggest difference. Improve your lifestyle and improve your life. So, don’t smoke and make sure you’re getting adequate sleep.

Chronic inflammation doesn’t have to continue to impact your life. Take the steps now using these tips and experience a pain-free, healthy existence. You are entirely capable of leading your life down the path you want to go down. If you’ve followed this advice and continue to experience harmful inflammation, make an appointment with your functional medicine doctor to get to the root cause.

Eating for your best health

Black family eating healthy food togetherWhat’s the single most important lifestyle change you can make to benefit your health? It’s your diet. Your diet is probably the most crucial part of your overall health and wellness. By “diet,” we don’t mean a short-term reduction in the amount of food or kind of food you eat to lose weight or achieve a particular body goal, but your habitual eating patterns every day, over your whole life.

What to eat

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we always advise choosing fresh, “whole” foods as much as possible — foods that have as little processing as possible. While that generally means foods in their most natural state, it’s also important to beware of additives in many foods in grocery stores that you would not expect, such as added sugars and salt. You also need to be aware that most vegetables and fruits can contain traces of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals that our bodies did not evolve to handle.

We often recommend the Mediterranean diet or the paleo diet as those that are the healthiest diets for most people.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of people from countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy and Spain. It emphasizes fresh, seasonal and local foods: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and cereals and olive oil, as well as moderate amounts of fish and poultry, smaller portions of dairy such as yogurt and cheese, red and processed meats, and sweets. One aspect that many enjoy is regular consumption of moderate amounts of wine with meals. Another surprising aspect is the focus on social eating — eating meals with others, particularly family, resting after eating and exercising regularly.

The paleo diet is based on the theoretical food intake of prehistoric people of the Paleolithic Era, from about 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. It includes lean meats, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that could have been obtained through hunting and gathering.

As a result, the paleo diet restricts or limits foods that only became available after humans started farming about 10,000 years ago, such as dairy products, grains and legumes.

Food sensitivities

We’re all a little different, which means that some of us are sensitive or intolerant to certain foods. A good example is those who are allergic to peanuts, which can cause a response as serious as an anaphylactic reaction, which is swelling that can close the airways.

Other people are lactose intolerant, meaning their digestive systems cannot fully digest lactase, the sugar found in milk. As a result, they can experience discomfort and pain after eating any dairy product, including cheese.

Many people go through their lives without understanding their food sensitivities and intolerances. They may have symptoms that look like chronic diseases or health conditions. Others experience unhealthy weight gain, or find it impossible to lose weight. However, once they eliminate these foods, their symptoms clear up, they establish a healthy weight and enjoy profound improvements in their overall health and wellness.

Another important step is to identify the foods that the individual can handle through food sensitivity testing. Once we identify the foods that you’re sensitive to, those you’re intolerant of, and those that benefit you most, we can together develop an individualized eating plan.

Intermittent fasting

One trend that is showing very promising results in controlling weight is intermittent fasting. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, it’s about when you eat. It means fasting for 16 hours a day, and eating only during a set, 8-hour period in the day — for instance, between noon and 8:00 p.m.

It has a number of benefits, and while many in the medical community were skeptical five or six years ago, the opinion is changing. A recent study published by the Harvard Medical School found that it can be more effective than other diet plans for weight loss and prevention of diabetes.

Intermittent fasting works at the chemical and cellular level. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut into protein, fat and carbohydrates, which are sugars and starches, in our bloodstream.

Our cells use sugar for energy, with any leftovers stored in cells as fat. To convert sugar into either energy or fat, we need insulin. It’s insulin that brings sugar into fat cells and stores it there.

Our bodies produce insulin when we eat, so as long as we’re not eating, the insulin level in our bloodstream goes down and fat cells release stored sugar to be used as energy. When insulin levels go down, we lose weight. Intermittent fasting allows insulin levels to go down long enough for us to burn off fat.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Those who experience strong food cravings, disruption of sleep patterns or who are under extreme stress from other factors in life are not good candidates for intermittent fasting.

Get your best eating plan

Take charge of your best health today. Talk to Proactive Wellness Centers to help work out the personalized eating plan for your optimal health.

The sneaky ways sugar can affect our mental health

There are certain times of the year when we all indulge in sugar (even taking candy from our kids, if we’re being honest). We may go on baking frenzies during the holidays or have a large slice of cake during birthday celebrations. Or perhaps we sneak in an extra nibble or two of the leftover pie after dinner. It’s okay, we all do it. While everything in moderation is best, we should also consider that an extra spoonful of sugar here and there can take a toll – not just on our waistline, but also on our minds.

Closeup image of a happy woman holding and enjoy eating cheese cRead on to learn more about how sugar can impact our minds:

1. Anxiety

For adults, anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental disorders, where nearly 25% of the population experiences something of the sort. Not all conditions can be attributed to sugar, but did you know that sugar can cause certain symptoms, which can contribute to a panic attack? These symptoms include difficulty thinking, fatigue and shaking.

Cutting back on sugar can help the body to cope with stress in a healthier way by boosting your energy (and keeping you free from harmful sugar highs and crashes).

2. Depression

Speaking of the ups and downs that come with sugar consumption, this roller coaster ride sugar has us on can contribute to an increased risk of depression. Some research explains that sugar suppresses a certain hormone that is low in individuals with depression.

3. Memory

High glucose levels have shown to diminish mental capacity over time. If you’re a little too keen on the cookies, there is a chance you’ll experience deficits in memory, learning and other cognitive functions.

It’s normal to experience sugar cravings every so often. Instead of reaching for refined sugars, your body and mind will thank you for turning to fresh fruit instead. Your body and mind will benefit. Now that is sweet.

Folic acid, mutation and wellness

47096319_MDo you feel a lack of energy? Confused, sometimes? Depression that you cannot link to any other cause?

A range of seemingly unrelated symptoms may be the result of the way that your body processes folate, or vitamin B9. Folic acid is an essential vitamin, and while supplements can make up for a lack of vitamin B9 in the diet, some otherwise healthy people have a genetic mutation that interferes with the body’s ability to process it, called methylation. This can be treated.

Folate

Folate, folacin or vitamin B9 is an essential vitamin. We need it to metabolize amino acids, which are needed for cell division, part of the process of growth and maintenance of body tissues.

Folate deficiency can lead to a certain form of anemia, in which red blood cells are enlarged and immature. Symptoms include feeling tired, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and open sores on the tongue.

Pregnant women are often prescribed folic acid supplements to prevent miscarriages as well as certain birth defects in their babies, including neural tube defects, spina bifida and congenital heart defects. This is especially important in the first trimester.

Some studies have found that folic acid supplements for pregnant women reduced the risk of autism spectrum disorders by 23%. Folic supplements have been linked to reductions in rates of heart disease, stroke and congenital heart defects. Folate deficiency has also been linked with diarrhea, depression, confusion, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline. Long-term insufficiency may increase the risks of colorectal, breast, ovarian, pancreas, brain, lung, cervical and prostate cancers.

Sources

Because humans cannot make folate, we must get it from food. The recommended daily intake of folate for adults is 400 micrograms. Dark, leafy vegetables such as lentils, asparagus, spinach and lettuce are good sources of folate. Peanuts and sunflower seed kernels are also very rich sources of folate, as are chickpeas, soybeans and walnuts. Chicken liver and calf liver are meats that are excellent sources, as well.

The MTHFR mutation

Methylation, the process in which the body uses folate, is controlled by the gene MTHFR. It’s responsible for producing an enzyme called Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which is a catalyst, or trigger, for the production of DNA and RNA and in cell division.

There are a number of possible mutations in the MTHFR gene, most of which are benign. However, one called C677T can interfere with the methylation process, leading to puzzling and often serious symptoms of a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia, or excels levels of a hormone called homocysteine.

Our research has found a number of conditions and symptoms either caused or made worse by the MTHFR mutation, from autism to asthma, to male infertility to various cancers.

Treatment

As with all treatments at Proactive Wellness Centers, we begin with a comprehensive assessment of your health and your body. This includes a complete lab panel of blood and other fluid tests. We also perform an advanced genetics panel, Cartoid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) tests to measure the thickness of the inner layers of the arteries and, if indicated, food sensitivity testing. These tests give us a full picture of your overall health and needs.

With this, we can develop dietary and lifestyle guidelines suited to your health needs, age and sensitivities. For example, we may recommend adding a green smoothie to your daily diet. We may also recommend reducing or eliminating consumption of:

  • dairy products
  • gluten
  • processed foods
  • antacids

Depending on the lab results, symptoms and age, we may also recommend adjustments to your lifestyle. These could include:

  • eliminating carpeting from your home
  • filtering chlorine from drinking water
  • using an electric rather than a gas stove

Nutritional supplements

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we have found that nutritional supplementation is key to advancing a patient’s overall wellness. But treating a long-term folate deficiency caused by the MTHFR mutation requires more than a simple folic acid pill once a day. Each patient requires the right supplements at the right time.

For example, methylated folate can make inflammation worse, so in a patient with a folate deficiency, inflammation must be treated before adding folate supplements.

Other possible supplements could include:

  • broad-spectrum intravenous vitamin therapy
  • multivitamins (excluding B9 or folic acid)
  • glutathione
  • fish oil
  • nattokinase
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D3
  • probiotics

Then, we would consider adding methylated folate, as long as the patient is not inflamed.

The right solution

Every body is unique, and that means that every treatment regimen must be uniquely tailored to the patient’s needs.

Imbalances in one part or one system of the body may manifest symptoms in other parts. Rather than focusing on one system or symptom, as specialists do, we take a functional medicine approach to find the root causes. In this way, we can develop a protocol that works for each individual.

If you have symptoms that you cannot account for or that successive specialists have failed to address, book an appointment for an assessment to put you on the path to optimal, life-long wellness.

6 tips for starting a meditation practice

Meditation is on the rise, and for a good reason. Practicing meditation eases stress and anxiety and even has a physical effect. Some studies show that the incidence of heart disease and other complications is lowered by those who employ the breathing techniques and peacefulness that comes with meditation. 52942829_M

For those who want to start meditating, sometimes too much thought goes into how to begin. Meditation is about mindfulness, not overexertion of your thoughts. Here are six simple ways to get started.

1. Start small.
Remember not to feel overwhelmed. This may be new to you, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Begin — the rest is easy.

2. Form a designated space.
Your meditation space can be anywhere, including a corner of your living room or the floor of your office. Don’t feel like you have to have a room solely for meditation; any space where you know that is where you can go to practice is the space for you.

3. Meditate on a schedule.
Don’t worry if you don’t follow your schedule exactly. Simply having some semblance of a schedule will keep you motivated to continue on your new-found meditation journey.

4. Utilize an app.
There are so many phone applications now, such as Calm and Headspace, that guide you in meditation. Both of these apps track your meditation activities in some way, and they serve as a fun way to stay motivated.

5. Consider investing in comfort.
Meditation is all about being in the moment, but how can you focus on anything else during your meditation time if you’re distracted by a chair that forces you to keep adjusting how you’re sitting.

6. Let others know your intentions.
Whether it’s a spouse, your children or a roommate, letting those you live with know that you want to pick up the practice of meditation will help them understand when you take a moment to yourself.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be comfortable practicing the art of meditation in no time. Remember to begin small, and all the rest will fall into place.

Your body type should help determine your treatment plan

42109334 - family sharing mealEverybody is unique, and that means that every body is unique, too. Which means that your optimal health plan should be unique — tailored to your individual, unique body size and shape.

In clinical terms, this involves a complete understanding of your morphology, or body shape and composition, and metabolism, which is how your body stores and uses energy.

Indicators of morphology

While weight and height are, at best, crude indicators of body shape, we have found that the ratio of waist and hip measurements to chest, shoulders and other measurements can be very useful.

A number of medical studies tell us that fat buildup around the waist is more dangerous than elsewhere in the body. It’s associated with higher incidence of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other critical illnesses.

Body composition

One of the most important measurements for your body is the proportion of total body fat. Men require at least 3-5 % body fat, with 8-18% the idea range. Clinical obesity starts at 22% body fat.

For women, the ideal range is 18-25% total body fat; clinical obesity starts at 32%.

Of course, obesity presents a number of health problems, including added stress to joints and skeleton. But at one point, excess body fat can lead to insulin resistance, also known as metabolic syndrome.

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose, or blood sugar, to enter cells to “burn” as energy. In insulin resistance, cells do not respond normally to insulin, which leads to excess sugar levels in the bloodstream. This in turn leads to formation of new fatty tissue and accelerated weight gain, leading to more strain on the body’s systems, as well as potentially to diabetes and liver disease.

For men, insulin resistance can start to happen at around 29% body fat, and for women at 32%. This is a serious concern that can lead to hypertension, heart disease and even cancer.

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we do more than put a tape measure around your shoulders, chest and waist. We look to find out exactly how much of your total mass is lean, fat and water. We use a range of technologies to give us a full picture of exactly what you’re made of.

One of our most important tools is the InBody 570 body composition analyzer from GE/Inbody. This device looks like the weight scale you would find in most physicians’ offices or at a gym, with extra handles. The handles, however, are electrodes. When you hold the electrodes, the InBody 570 sends a mild electrical current through your body, and measure the impedance (a type of electrical resistance).

In 45 seconds, the device tells us the proportion of total body fat, Fat Mass (FM), and Fat Free Mass (FFM), and water in your body.

This helps us produce a complete picture of you and your health, with the goal of producing a plan for your optimal, lifelong wellness.

Your lifelong wellness plan

Everyone’s body is unique, and that means that everyone should have a wellness plan that is tailored to their unique shape, size and health circumstances. Visit our website to get started on finding your lifelong wellness plan.

Is it safe to lose a lot of weight quickly?

Low Section Of Woman Standing On Weighing Scale“Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” While fad diets over-promise and underdeliver weight loss and health benefits, losing a lot of weight quickly can strain your system and put your health at risk. But there are situations where fast, managed weight loss is important.

In these cases, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the goal and the reasons for rapid weight loss. What’s essential here is a clear, medically derived plan for weight loss.

Start with evaluation

The managed plan starts with a complete evaluation of your body composition. The first step is up to you: bringing in a food diary that documents everything you eat for at least a week. Your doctor will review it to provide you with guidance toward an eating plan that works for you and your weight loss goals.

We then go to the InBody 520 evaluation from BIOSPACE. This gives us a complete understanding of your body composition. We’ll repeat this every two weeks over a 90-day period to monitor your progress.

Lab tests will inform the evaluation.

The evaluation takes into account factors that could contribute to your body’s resistance to weight loss:

  • depressed metabolism
  • hypothyroidism, or reduced activity of the thyroid gland
  • insulin resistance
  • high cortisol levels
  • food allergies and sensitivities
  • toxic burden
  • chronic sleep deprivation
  • neurotransmitter imbalances
  • hormone imbalances.

Treatment plan

With a complete picture of your current health and a clear goal, we can work out a 12-week weight loss plan together. This includes:

  • eating or diet plan, including sample meal plans and nutritional supplements
  • exercise and activity plan
  • educational materials.

All of these are organized into a binder so you can easily find the information you need, when you need it.

Ongoing monitoring

Achieving an ambitious weight-loss goal takes more than planning. As our name suggests, at Proactive Wellness Centers we focus on action. We give you the guidance, knowledge and the tools you’ll need to achieve your healthy weight, and we follow up with regular email and phone support with your assigned physician.

You’ll also be coming into the clinic every two weeks — six times over the three month period. This way, your physician will be able to track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your diet plan, nutritional supplements, hormonal balance and other prescriptions.

We’ll work together to help you get to your optimal health. Call or email us today to set up a meeting to find you how you can take charge of your health now.

Prevent heart attack and stroke

closeup of hands holding red heart with familyHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today — causing as many as one in four of all deaths. And this applies equally to every group, whether on the basis of ethnicity, gender or walk of life.

Ironically, or perhaps fortunately, many of the underlying causes of heart disease can be avoided with intervention and treatment. In other words, we know how to solve this problem.

Prevalence of heart disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is responsible for about 610,000 deaths in the United States every year. That’s one in every four deaths.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of the population of the United States has some kind of cardio-vascular disease. The most common type is coronary heart disease, which is caused by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This narrows the arteries, reducing the flow of blood and ultimately can lead to a heart attack.

Every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. About a third of these are second or subsequent heart attacks — they happen to people who have already had a heart attack.

Risk factors for heart disease

The key risk factors linked to heart disease are high blood pressure or hypertension, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. However, the latest data shows that 60 percent of people who have a heart attack have normal levels of cholesterol in their blood. This means that standard cholesterol tests are not useful for predicting who is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Other factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease include:

  • overweight and obesity
  • diabetes
  • poor diet
  • lack of exercise or physical activity
  • excessive alcohol use.

Heart attack and stroke prevention

At Proactive Wellness Centers, we have developed programs targeting cardiovascular disease.

Advanced Cardiac Evaluation (ACE) begins with advanced testing using True Health Lab’s (TH) advanced testing. This has been proven to provide better information in identifying the presence of cardiovascular disease.

Advanced carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) imaging combined with emerging, scientifically validated biomarkers, uses simple blood tests to identify cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease formations that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

CIMT is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound imaging to measure the intima-media, the innermost two layers of the wall of an artery. We use it to measure the thickness of the carotid artery, the big artery in the neck that carries blood to the head. This test allows us to quickly find the presence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the artery due to plaque build-up. It’s a major predictor of heart disease and heart attack.

Next, the HeartSmartIMTplus test evaluates the characteristics of plaque build-up. Softer plaque is more likely to break off, which can lead to a blockage and heart attack or stroke.

Once we have identified the presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, we can move on to the Advanced Cardiac Treatment (ACT) program to prevent, mitigate and reverse the progress of the disease.

Prevention strategies

There are steps we can all take to help prevent the onset of heart disease.

  • Know your risk factors: get the tests to measure inflammation, plaque and other risk factors, as well as your family history of heart disease.
  • CIMT: the non-invasive tests that detects the presence of plaque build-up in your arteries, and determine its characteristics as described above.
  • Eat a healthy diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, reduced in sodium and moderate in total caloric content.
  • Exercise regularly: at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. This does not have to be extreme. Just 25 minutes of walking each day can be enough.
  • Get enough sleep: Recent research has found a link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of heart disease. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend at least seven and a half hours of sleep per night for adults, and more for children and adolescents.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for developing heart disease. The previous two steps, a healthy diet and regular exercise, are the two most important components of life-long weight control. Research also finds a link between insufficient sleep and excess weight.
  • Get the right vitamin supplements, particularly COQ10. This is an enzyme crucial to energy creation at the cellular level, especially in cardiac or heart tissues. We recommend at least 200 mg daily, and up to 400 mg for patients at higher risk of heart disease.
  • Work with your preventative medicine specialist for controlling other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, genetic factors and other risks.

Find your cholesterol profile

Don’t put your health off any longer. You can get your full cardiac risk profile with an Advanced Cardiac Evaluation — just call us at 703-822-5003, or use our online contact form to set up your appointment.

Or, if you know your status and just want your CIMT score, you can schedule just a CIMT scan and a 30-minute follow-up visit.

Be proactive — take charge of your health today.

Heart disease: The silent killer

31053823 - senior man relaxing in autumn landscapeThanks to advances in modern medicine and disease prevention, Americans are living longer, healthier lives than ever. But a silent killer still stalks us. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide.

The good news? Proactive Wellness Centers is a preventive medicine specialist that is able to help you minimize and mitigate your risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, susceptible genetics and other key risk factors. We also offer Advanced Cardiac Evaluation (ACE) and Advanced Cardiac Treatment (ACT) programs to help patients prevent, reverse and mitigate cardiovascular disease.

Knowing your risk is extremely important. We have the Carotid Intima Media Thickness (CIMT) with HeartSmartIMTplus™, a non-invasive and cost-effective diagnostic tool that uses ultrasound imaging to provide the earliest detection of cardiovascular disease. The test takes only 10 minutes and is done in our office. Specifically, HeartSmartIMTplus™ measures the intima media thickness of the carotid artery to determine the presence of sub-clinical atherosclerosis (cardiovascular disease that is undetected by other tests).

Here are some other ways to reduce your risk of heart disease:

Take plenty of COQ10. This is a critical enzyme that is at the root of energy creation at the cellular level, especially in the cardiac tissues. For patients at higher risk, we recommend 400 mg daily and for patients at lower risk, we recommend 200 mg daily. A recent long-term study supports the use of CoQ10 in combination with Selenium.

Controlling your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.

Getting enough exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day. Walking is great exercise.

Eating a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit saturated fats and high levels of sodium and sugar.

Getting regular cholesterol checks. Work with your physician to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Quitting smoking. If you smoke, stop.

Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is often not diagnosed until an individual experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. The symptoms for each:

Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).

Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. Learn more about our CIMT test and other ways we can help you prevent and manage heart disease by visiting our website: http://proactivewellness.com

 

What are antioxidants and why do you need them?

Medical capsule with fruit. Vitamins and supplements. DifferentYou may have heard of antioxidants, and how eating things like berries can absorb free radicals, boosting your health. It sounds good, and who would turn down berries?

What are antioxidants? What are free radicals? What do they do to your body? And how do they affect your health?

Free radicals

At every moment of our lives, our body’s cells are busy converting sugar into energy. This allows us to move, to digest food, to breathe; it allows our hearts to pump blood, our brains to process the input of our senses into a conception of our natural environment — in short, life.

As this happens, the chemical reactions at the cellular level produce, among other things, free radicals. These are chemicals, atoms or molecules that each have a single unpaired valence electron. Chemically, this makes them highly reactive.

While many free radicals are generated by processing food and converting sugar to energy, others can be absorbed from the air we breathe, and some are created by the interaction of sunlight on our skin.

As they move through the bloodstream and other body systems, free radicals interact with other molecules and cells in a process called oxidation. Chemically, oxidation is the same as combustion, burning or rusting.

Free radicals are essential to a number of essential life processes, such as fighting off infection. However, when the body has an imbalance in the amount of free radicals, it can experience a state called oxidative stress.

Research has associated oxidative stress with a range of diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among many others.

Other symptoms of oxidative stress can range from arthritis pain to eczema and migraines. One sign can be a build-up of lipid peroxides.

Antioxidants to the rescue

Fortunately, we’re not helpless against free radicals. Our bodies also produce chemicals called antioxidants. As their name implies, they tend to produce chemical reactions that work against oxidation.

We can also get antioxidants from food, especially unprocessed fruits and vegetables and other plants. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Berries are also high in other antioxidants.

The way forward

Experiencing a range of symptoms with unclear causes can be a sign of oxidative stress and excess lipid peroxides. A simple urine test can measure these markers.

From there, we can perform a blood analysis to identify food sensitivities and allergies that could be associated with health symptoms. An IgG Food Antibody Profile, for instance, tests for sensitivity to 30 common food antigens.

With this information in hand, we can develop a program tailored to your specific metabolic needs. It would include food, nutrition and supplements designed to bring your body into balance.

Contact us about working up your comprehensive metabolic profile and take charge of your health.